Sunday, May 05, 2013

Data Collection Assignment: English Past Tense in the Interlanguage of L1 Speakers of Chinese


(Originally submitted November 10, 2010)

            This study looks at the oral production of two L1 Chinese speakers retelling a narrative from their past, and focuses on the distribution of past tense verbs.  It examines which type of verbs get marked for the past tense in the learner interlanguage, and whether this is for phonological, grammatical, or lexical reasons.
Literature Review
            Since the 1970s, second language acquisition research has used the term interlanguage to refer to the language system that learners construct, and the rules which appear to govern it at any given stage in their development (Ortega, 2009).
            Much attention has been paid to how learners express temporal notions in their interlanguage, particularly in the past tense.  Intermediate and advanced learners of English are no doubt well aware that the past tense exists, but it is used inconsistently even by advanced learners of English (Riddle, 1986).
                        Part of the reason for learner errors, Riddle (1986) argues is that the past tense is often taught in ESL as having a completive sense.  That is, learners perceive (or are taught) that the past tense is used for situations that once were true, but are no longer true at the time of speech.  This is in conflict with the native speaker preference for using the past tense to indicate something that was true in the past, and may or may not still be true in present.
            For this reason it has been suggested that lexical type plays a role in whether or not a verb is marked for the past tense in a learner’s interlanguage.  This is known as the aspect hypothesis, and was developed by Andersen and Shirai in 1996 (Ortega, 2009).  Research has shown that learners are more likely to supply a past tense verb for telic verbs (actions that have an inherent end point) and least likely to use a past tense verb for stative verbs (verbs describing the state or condition of something) (Collins, 2005).
            Much research follows the classification system devised by Andersen in 1991 which divides verbs into four different categories: accomplishments (which are instantaneous) achievements (dynamic actions which have an inherent end point) activities (dynamic actions with no inherent end points) and states (used for stative verbs).  Andersen found that with untutored learners of Spanish, the acquisition of past tense markings started with accomplishment verbs, then moved to achievement verbs, followed by activity verbs, and finally state verbs (Bardovi-Harlig & Reynolds, 1995).  Bardovi-Harlig et al.  (1995) found similar patterns with tutored learners of English, showing that in learner vocabularies event verbs (achievement and accomplishment verbs) were marked for the past tense at a much higher rate than non-event verbs (activity and state verbs).
            In addition to the simple past tense, English has many other verb forms used to express actions in the past time.  These various other forms combine the past tense with the perfect aspect (a situation which results from the completion of an earlier state or event) or the progressive aspect (which presents events as being in progress) (Collins & Hollo, 2010).  It is common for learners of English to first use the present progressive, followed by the simple past, the past progressive, the present perfect, and the past perfect (pluperfect), in that order (Ortega, 2009). 
            As learners become more competent with the English tense system, they may also seek to break chronological order and use reverse order reports in their narratives.  This commonly does not happen until the correct use of the past tense stabilizes at about 80% (Bardovi-Harlig, 1994).  A common way to break chronological order in English is to use the past perfect to show that one event was already completed at the time another event took place, regardless of which event was mentioned first in the narrative.  However even at advanced levels English learners will often avoid the use of the past perfect and instead indicate reverse order reports by other means such as time adverbials (Bardovi-Harlig, 1994). 
            This particular study focuses on L1 Mandarin Chinese using past tense English verbs. 
            Although the role of the first language on second language acquisition is controversial (supporters of the Skill Acquisition Theory or Universal Grammar believe the L1 has no influence on L2 acquisition) many researchers believe the grammar and phonology of the L1 can transfer over into the interlanguage of the L2 learner (Sharmini, Tee Pei Leng, Singaram & Jusoff, 2009).  If the latter is true, the Chinese language has certain grammatical characteristics which may influence the interlanguage of Chinese learners of English.
            Unlike English, Chinese verbs do not have past tenses.  Instead Chinese uses auxiliary verbs, particles or time verbs to indicate the past (Sharmini et al. 2009).  There is therefore a possible tendency for Chinese learners of English to indicate temporality adverbially instead of morphologically, and to overuse the present tense.
            Research Questions
            How are past actions or states expressed in the English narratives of L1 speakers of Chinese? 
            Method
            Participants
            Two female participants, Sue and Carol (not their real names) were selected.  Both had an L1 of Mandarin, were from the Shanghai area, and were currently attending RMIT University in Melbourne.  Both had lived in Australia for two years.  Carol was studying a bachelor’s of Accounting and Sue was completing a Master’s of Accounting. 
            Both had studied English as a second language for 10 years in the Chinese public school system.  Both had taken a short English course upon arriving in Australia before the start of their academic program (1 month in the case of Sue, and 3 months in the case of Carol.)
            Both participants were known personally to me since we all lived on the same dormitory floor, and I have had frequent interaction with them throughout the year.  I have noticed that despite their high level of English, they both use imperfect grammar and idiomatic phrasing.  However they have no trouble in communicating (either in understanding or in being understood).  Furthermore they are both obviously able to function in English in academic settings at the tertiary level. 
            It was my subjective impression, prior to data collection, that Sue had a greater proficiency level than Carol, and my original intention was to compare two learners of different proficiency levels.  However the data analysis did not show any great difference in regards to accuracy level of the target feature (past tense).  Post-data collection interviews also indicated both participants had the same IELTS score: 6 average with a 5.5 in speaking.  The comparative analysis therefore became between two learners of similar proficiency, but with a slightly different developed interlanguage.
Instrument
            Both participants were told to think of some incident in their past which they felt they could talk about for five minutes.  Within this broad framework they were allowed complete freedom of topic.  They were given a couple minutes to think about a suitable incident, and were then asked to speak into a tape recorder.  They were prompted as needed, but as long as they kept talking I stayed out of their way.  Sue spoke for 10:10 minutes, with almost no prompting.  Carol spoke for 6:55 minutes, with prompting for the last two minutes.  A transcript of the recording was typed up immediately after each recording and given to the participant.  They were offered the opportunity to dispute any parts of it.  Neither of them expressed any dissatisfaction.
Analysis
            All correct instances of using the past tense were counted, and then compared against the number of instances were the past tense was obligatory for an accuracy percentage.  To analysis patterns in distribution, two sets of tables were created.  The first set of tables analyzed the distribution of accurate and inaccurate verb tenses distributed by the lexical morphology of the verbs (see appendix C for Sue’s distribution, and appendix D for Carol’s distribution.)  The second set of tables analyzed accuracy distribution by the inherent lexical aspects of the verb (see appendix E for Sue’s distribution, and appendix F for Carol’s distribution). 
            (In order to focus only on the past tense, the present tense and all non-finite verbs were excluded, as well as conditionals and reported speech.  As with any instance of data coding some judgment calls were made about ambiguous situations.    To see the reasons why some verbs were excluded from analysis, as well as a complete list of all the verbs excluded, see Appendix G.)
Results and Discussions
            The first step in the data analysis was to look at participants overall accuracy using the past tense.  This resulted in an accuracy percentage of 57% for Sue, and 49% for Carol. 
            Of the errors counted, there were only three instances of incorrect morphology (feeled, thinked and gived) across both data sets.  All the other errors were cases of incorrectly substituting a present tense verb where the context required a past tense one.
            Despite the high amount of errors, the distribution was clearly not random.  Certain words were consistently marked in the past, and other words were consistently marked in the present.  Excluding self-corrections, Sue only had six words that she overlapped between the two groups (make, give, come, call, say and like).  Carol only had one (eat).  As predicted in the literature, this indicates that non-target like verb tenses are not a matter of simple mistakes or slips of the tongue creeping into the learner’s production, but rather indicates that certain verbs are represented differently in the interlanguage with regards to tense.
There are various explanations why different verbs could be marked differently in the interlanguage.  One explanation is phonological constraints.
Chinese does not allow final consonant clusters, and in their oral production some Chinese learners may avoid final consonant cluster past tense forms that they might otherwise comfortably produce in their written English (Bardovi-Harlig, 1999.) 
This may account for Carol’s failure to produce “walked” (/wɔːkt/) and the mixed rate with which Sue was able to correctly produce the past tense “liked” (/laɪkt /).
However this explanation is not completely satisfactory for either participant, because they at times both correctly produce past forms with final consonant clusters and fail to produce past forms with no consonant clusters.
Another explanation is that through frequency of input, certain verb past tenses are fused into the learner’s brain earlier than others.   This is the reason, according to the hierarchical ordering of morphemes, beginning learners often master the past tense of irregular verbs (which have higher frequency in English) before regular verbs, despite the more predictable pattern of regular verb conjugation (Ortega, 2009).
In the case of verb forms, both participants showed slightly higher accuracy with regular verbs than irregular verbs (70% compared to 54% in the case of Carol, 67% to 55% with Sue).  This goes against the pattern mentioned above for beginning learners, but neither participant is a beginner and may well be beyond that stage of their development.  In fact the three examples of irregular verbs given incorrect “-ed” endings (mentioned above) indicate that the participants may have begun over-generalizing the regular verb endings to irregular verbs, possibly as part of a U-shaped development assuming fossilization does not interfere (Ortega, 2009).
Furthermore, some research has disputed the claim that learners always acquire the irregular past tense first (Bardovi-Harlig, 1999), and at least one study has shown that low level Chinese learners of English will learn regular verbs before irregular verbs  (Sharmini et al. 2009).
Another explanation for the marking of past tense is that lexical meaning determines verb markings.  In the case of Sue, this is supported by looking at the negative verbs. Because negative verbs inflect tense on the auxiliary followed by the base form of the main verb, morphology of the main verb is not a factor in determining tense, and yet in Sue’s case the same words are marked in the present tense for both the positive and the negative, such as want (four times in the positive, three times in the negative) and care (once in the positive, twice in the negative).  (Carol had no verbs incorrectly marked in the negative present tense, and so a comparison with Carol’s data was not possible.)
It is at this point that we turn to the lexical classification system developed by Andersen to examine patterns in the lexical type of verbs.  Each verb was classified into one of four categories:  achievement verbs, accomplishment verbs, activity verbs, or state verbs.  Accuracy percentages were calculated accordingly.  (See the appendixes E and F for complete tables and accuracy calculations.)
As expected, it was found that both learners had their lowest level of accuracy with state verbs (38% for Carol, 50% for Sue), and for both learners event verbs were tensed more accurately than non-event verbs (79% compared to 39% for Carol, 65% to 55% for Sue.)  As expected, both learners showed increasing accuracy proceeding from state verbs, to activity verbs, to accomplishment verbs.  However in both learners the pattern was broken with achievement verbs, which did not receive the highest level of accuracy, as the literature had predicted.  This may be partly because of the infrequency with which they occurred (particularly in Carol’s data).  As Bardovi-Harlig et al. (1995) note, it is very difficult to get verbs perfectly balanced across the lexical aspect classes in an unguided production.
As predicted in the literature, there was a tendency for both participants to use stative verbs in the present tense when referring to situations that were true in the past and still true at the present time (i.e. Sue T16 “I had a, a good friend.  She is a girl, but looks like a boy”) despite the fact that a native speaker standard would have preferred the past tense for verbs reporting past situations, regardless of whether they are still true in the present time or not.  Carol had ten errors of this sort, and Sue had four.
Moving beyond the simple past, there are very few examples of other past verb forms in either data set.  There is one attempt at the past progressive in Carol’s data (T40 “my dad like always, (laughs) hm hm, checking on me”).  Although this is only one occurrence, it is consistent with the research which indicates past progressive occurs after simple past in learner language.
Sue showed one example of a past participle verb, which may have been an attempt at a past perfect, but it was without an auxiliary verb and in a context where the simple past would have been more appropriate (T44 “after that we been together.  Been together for around two years.”)
It is notable that both the previous examples are missing the auxiliary verb.  This is consistent with findings that learners appear to begin the acquisition of a new verb form by only using the verb and a verbal suffix, and omitting any auxiliaries (Bardovi-Harlig, 2000).
Other than these two examples, all other past contexts used the simple past tense or, incorrectly, the present tense.
There were no correctly formed examples of the past perfect in either data sample, although there were occasional reverse order reports where a past perfect form would have been appropriate.  (For example Carol, T62, “He can’t ask for any help because peoples already fall asleep.”)
This is not particularly surprising, because the previous research indicates the past perfect does not emerge until the correct use of the simple past has stabilized at around 87% (with a possible low of 78%) (Bardovi-Harlig, 1994).  Neither participant had reached this threshold.  Instead, both participants used time adverbials (like already) and because (as illustrated above) to make reverse order reports.  Reverse sequencing prepositions are also used (Sue T56 “I called him after I came to Australia”).
Differences Between Participants
There were many observable differences between the language of Carol and Sue, although much of it falls outside the scope of this study. 
(For example Sue appeared much more confident using the conditional tense than Carol was.  Although some of this may have been driven by the topic.  Sue was talking about a failed romance, and therefore speculated a lot on what might have been.) 
With regards to the focus of this study, the past tense, both learners appear to be in a similar stage of development, and (as indicated above) show the same patterns in the analysis.  However within this similarity, there are differences in which specific verbs get marked.  For example, Sue consistently used the verb couldn’t correctly in the past tense (five times in all), whereas Carol always incorrectly used the present tense can’t (eleven times in all).  By contrast, Sue incorrectly used words like think (three times) in the present tense, while Carol correctly used the past thought (two times.)  This indicates that despite the learners being in the same stages of development, the interlanguage mental dictionary of each learner is built up slightly differently on a word by word basis.  Individual variation of this sort may simply be a reflection of the unique language learning experience that every learner has.
Limitations
            Something that was slightly humbling when reading over the transcript was noticing the various grammatical mistakes the interviewer (myself) made during the course of the conversation.  For example T5 in Sue’s data: “The teacher doesn’t allow it?” (Echoing the learner, but still referring to a situation in the past with a present tense negation.)  Also in T17 of the same transcript: “You better say it again” (instead of “You had better.”)  Finally in T43 of Carol’s data: “There were no taxis?” (instead of “there weren’t any taxis?”)  Given how little the interviewer spoke, these few lines represent a significant portion of the interviewer’s utterances.
This may indicate that perhaps a more stringent level of analysis was applied to the mistakes of the learner then to the native speaker interviewer, and perhaps throws doubt on the native speaker standard against which these participants were measured. 




Bibliography


Bardovi-Harlig. (1994). Reverse-order reports and the acquisition of tense. Beyond the  principle of  chronological order. Language Learning, 44, 243-282.
Bardovi-Harlig. (1999). From morpheme studies to temporal semantics: Tense-aspect in SLA. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21, 341-382.
Bardovi-Harlig. (2000). Tense and aspect in second language acquisition: Form, meaning and use. Oxford: Blackwell.
Bardovi-Harlig, K., & Reynolds, D.  (1995). The role of lexical Aspect in the acquisition of tense and aspect. TESOL Quarterly, 29 (1), 107-131.
Collins, L. (2005).  Accessing second language learners’ understand of temporal morphology.  Language Awareness, 14 (4), 207-219.
Collins, P., & Hollo, C. (2010).  English grammar: An introduction. New York: Palgrave MacMillian.
Ortega, L. (2009).  Understanding second language acquisition.  London: Hodder Education
Riddle, R.  (1986). The meaning and discourse function of the past tense in English.  TESOL Quarterly, 20 (2), 267-286.
Sharmini, S., Tee Pei Leng, K., Signaram, N ., & Jusoff, K. (2009). The second language   acquisition of past tense marker in English by L1 speakers of Chinese. Canadian Social Science, 5 (3), 133-140.

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Appendixes
A. Transcript of Sue’s data
B. Transcript of Carol’s data
C. Sue’s Past Tense Distribution by Morphology
D. Carol’s Past Tense Distribution by Morphology
E. Sue’s Past Tense Distribution by Inherent Lexical Aspects
F. Carol’s Past Tense Distribution by Inherent Lexical Aspects
G. Rationale for Coding and Verbs Excluded from Analysis


Appendix A
Transcript 1.  Sue. (Time 10:10 minutes)
1. Interviewer: Okay

2.  Sue: Once I get into the University in China,

3. I: Mm hmm

4. S: Um, our teacher actually doesn’t allow us to have a relationship with another guy

5. I: The teacher doesn’t allow it?

6. S: Yeah, because I’m the student leader in my classroom

7. I: Mm hmm

8. S: So, ah he was afraid if I fall in love with someone, then it will influence my study and my work—my student work

9. I: Mm hmm

10. S:  So actually he doesn’t allow it and he won’t accept it so but at that time, a guy was uh, you know, I met a guy, and he was ah, one year, ah, how do you say, levels in my grade?  Such as I’m in grade two but he was grade one.

11.  I: Okay

12.  S: Yeah and uh we met each other ah, at, we were just good friends at that time. But after that I felt, yeah I really like it—like him.  So ah, um, I encouraged myself to be together with him.  And uh, but I made some mistakes, because I, before that, I did something wrong.

13. I: Really?  What—

14. S: Not actually wrong.  Um.  How do you say? I promised him one thing.  That was, I promised him to go to travel with him during the summer holiday.  But I didn’t, you know, really go travel with him because I felt I shouldn’t lie to my parents.  If I let my parents know I go out with some guy, and then go to travel with him to some other city they will be afraid of me—worry about me. 

15.  I: Yeah

16. S: I mean, so I didn’t, how do you say, realize my promise.  So maybe he was disappointed at that time.  And after the summer holiday I felt I really should be together with him.  I don’t care anything—I didn’t care anything.  So I want to tell him I want to be with you but at that time he was just told me, okay, that’s enough, he couldn’t afford this.  This…things.  And ah, there are also some other things that happened during this time but it is very difficult to ah, describe.  Because I had a, a good friend.  She is a girl, but looks like a boy.  Um, and one, I-I just treated her as my best friend.  But one day he, uh she, said, [whisper] she liked me [end whisper]. 
            Oh, sorry.  [Reference to a 3rd party passing through.]
            So at that time I was just shocked. 
            You can understand from the tape.

17.  I: Yeah, maybe you better say it again.

18. S: Yeah, the girl just told me she loves me. 

19. I: Okay

20. S: GIRL told me she loves me.  I-I just shocked.  I couldn’t accept this.  Even she was my best friends.  You know, we are very happy together and take care of each other, but we are not in the same subject.

21. I: Mmm

22. S: And uh, I was shocked and then she, at that time she doesn’t allow —didn’t allow me to be together with a boy.  I just, couldn’t understand.  Why?  Because maybe at that time I was too young.  You know, so I couldn’t understand something, lesbian, or something, guy, gay, I couldn’t understand, because it’s not normal in China.

23. I: Okay.

24. S: Yeah, so uh, after the summer holiday I—during the summer holiday I think about to a lot, and I don’t want, I don’t want this kind of friend anymore, even you were—even we were very well--

25. I: mm hmm

26. S: --during the past, but ah, I just give up this friend and want to be together with the guy, and the guy just gave up, he gived up. 

27. I: mmm

28.  S: So I was very sad during that time.  And after that I tried everything to change myself.  You know, make-up.  Start to wear make-up.  Start to learn dance.

29. I: Mm hmm

30.  S:  And ah, just changed a lot.  And uh, I tried everything.  I want to, you know, um, how do you say, get him back.

31. I: mmm

32. S: Yeah, and along the way just buy some gifts for him if I go to the city, and uh send a message to him and ah, if it become cold, or something like that, I did a lot of things, because I don’t want to be ashame of my life.

33. I: mmm

34. S: So I just tried everything but, mm, he controlled my mood.  I mean, you can understand.  If he replied me the message I felt very happy.  And if he didn’t I felt sad.  My friends just persuaded me to give up many times.

35. I: Mm hmm

36. S: Um, so ah (laughs). It’s okay [in reference to 3rd person passing through].  Um, so um, I just ah, give -- gave myself last chance to ah, you know, tell him--tell him about how much I love you.  And ah, if you can, if you don’t want to be with me you just told me directly.

37. I: Mm hmm

38. S: And, uh, no something like, above friend, but below the love.

39. I: Oh, right.

40. S: Right, it’s very confusing.

41. I: Yeah.

42. S: Confusing, confused me. So ah, um, ah, I just give—gave myself last chance.  And uh, he said he can think about it.  And he want to something in nature not just very official.  You know, ah, be together or not together, just ah be natural. 

43. I: Mm hmm

44. S: Yeah.  So ah, yeah, after that we been together.  Been together for around two years. 

45. I: Mm hmm

46. S: Yeah I really care, care him, care about him, but ah, aft—because you know I am one grade higher than him. I’m a senior.  So ah, I graduated earl--one year earlier than him

47. I: Mm hmm

48. S: And ah, the, ah, it was not good to find—not, not easy to find a job in China during that time.  So ah, as you know I decide to study abroad

49. I: Mm hmm

50. S: For maybe two years and ah before that I ah tried to persuade him to accept this—this ah fact I decided to go overseas

51. I: Mm

52.  S: But, um, I used one year to ah, make him accept this but I failed

53. I: Really?

54. S: He still feel sad and normally say something make me disappointed

55. I: Mm

56. S: so I, after I came here, he never send me message, never call me, never, you know, MS me, something.  And ah, before that everyone weren’t happy, we were very, how’d you say, just very unhappy before I come to Australia. So ah, after that I think about, I thinked a lot, and I think I should end, end, finish this relationship.

57. I: Right.

58: S: Good for us.  Both of us.  So I ah, I just, even I still like him, still don’t want let him go.  But the truth is ah, maybe he doesn’t care me anymore.  Otherwise why he doesn’t--he didn’t send message or call me?

59.  I: Right

60. S: And ah once the time, uh, I called him after I came to Australia.  Maybe one week after I come to Australia I called him.  And I complained something.  Complained such as why you don’t look for me, or something.  And he said, if next time you calling me for complain something just don’t call me.

61. I: Mm

62. S: So, I was shocked and very sad at that time, so ah, I think the decision is right.  Otherwise we always—we’ll always, you know, blame with each other or complain with each other.  Why you leave me?  Why you go to Australia?  And I will complain why you don’t care about me, why you don’t just, ah, encourage me or support me.  So, I’m single now

63. I: You’re what?

64. S: I’m single now.

65. I: Ah, single now, right.

66. S: Yeah, long time ago.  Yeah but the memory sometimes still, you know, come rise from my head.  Ah, because I liked him for 4 years. 

67. I: mm hmm

68. S: Can you—Can you imagine you like someone for the whole 4 years?  It’s very difficult to forget him. 

69. I: right.

70. S: Yeah, that’s my, ah love story. Yeah, sad love story.  hmm (laughs)

71. I: Okay, great.  I think it was perfect.

72. S: More than 5 minutes (laughs)


Appendix B
Transcript 2. Carol.  (Time 6:55 minutes)
1. Interviewer: Okay

2.  Carol: So I, I can start now?

3.  I: Yep

4.  C:  Okay my memory story is about my father and um, it’s what happened when I was in grade 6 of senior school.  Ah, it was a rainy night, and I was really sick, and um my dad did not know I was sick.  Uh, he was, uh, with his supervisor, outside, and uh, and uh he came back really late at night, and uh, with, with strongly drunk.

5. I: With what?

6. C: Ah, he was strongly drunk.

7. I: Ah, right, okay

8. C: yeah, and ah, I can’t move, I can’t ah, take any step because um, I don’t know, ah one—before that happened I just got like small, small red, I don’t know what’s that?  Small red?

9: I: Ah

10. C: It’s—yeah

11. I: Like—like a mark?

12. C: Yeah, yes

13. I: Or a rash?

14. C: yeah, just a two in my ah leg.  Um left one and right one. 

15. I: Mm hmm

16. C: And uh next day my dad asked my mom to check on me because I just um, tell—told them for fun. I said look my leg is really funny

17. I: Mm hmm

18. C: so left one I got one mark and the right one I got one mark. 

19. I: Mm hmm

20. C: And my dad really take it ser—uh, seriously and the next day he asked my mom to check on me in school because I was in boarding school. 

21. I: Mm

22. C: And uh, when I uh take off my trousers I was shocked.  Because uh, um, the whole legs were all red. 

23. I: Mm

24. C:  So and um, I was um, mm, not, not light that time.  I was heavy.  And um my—my mom can’t hold me along.  So, we just take taxi home.  And um, that time I already can’t move anymore.  So uh, so that night my dad was really drunk.  He came back, like, midnight, 1 AM or something like that.  And um, when I, when I heard he came back I cried.  Because I thought, oh hopefully my dad came back he can save me. 

25. I: Mm

26. C: Because I can’t fall asleep.  And um, what my dad s---did is really shocked me.  He cried because he was so guilty.  He feel guilty.  He uh came back so late, he can’t feel his daughter was suffering some pain in---and um, he take me to the hospital because he can’t drive, because he was drunk, he just walk and uh hold me along.  And um, that time the hospital is really far away from my home and it’s uh really late, there’s no taxi on the way.  And he just, um, hold me, I don’t know that’s really…uh….yeah, he hold me and when we got to the hospital it’s already 3 AM. And um, I don’t know how to describe that feeling.  It’s like I, I, I saved by my father and he still feels sorry for me because uh, he, he, he think—he thought he couldn’t get home that, that late.

27. I: Mm

28. C: And ah, after that I, I, I wrote a letter for him.  I said thank you, and ah, and ah, I know he was feels sorry and I said you don’t need to feel like that because ah, I know you are so carefully because, ah, like, people generally can’t, like, just take two marks, left right legs and think maybe my daughter is something happened

29. I: Mm

30. C: But he feels like that and ask me—asked my mother to check on me.  So I, I really feel thank you about, about hi—about that thing

31. I: Mm

32: C: Yeah.  And uh, till now I still think about this, uh this thing happened to me because I thought that it’s, I – I feeled my dad really love me that much, yeah.  Is it [whisper] 5 minutes? [end whisper]

33.  I: Yeah, um, alright, so how long were you in the hospital?

34. C: I’s—one month.  One month. I take a sick leave from my school. 

35. I: Okay

36. C: Yeah, because um, my--my doctor said if I do not take hospital for one month maybe my life would be something dangerous or something.  Yeah

37.  I: Yeah.

38.  C: I-I can’t stay outside.  I- I can’t eat meat.  I just eat vegetables. I can’t eat rice.  So at that time I ate like 5 meals a day.  Just vegetables.

39. I: Okay

40. C: Yeah, and my dad like always, (laughs) hm hm, checking on me, for me, or always stay in hospital with me. Yeah

41. I: Yeah

42. C: (laughs)

43. I: Now, there were no taxis?

44. C: Oh yeah, that’s too late

45. I. Ah,

46. C: There’s not m-- not much m—that more, that more, yeah

47. I: Right

48. C: Because, also that is long s—  many many years ago, so economy is not that, ah, like these days

49. I: Yeah

50. C: Taxi is not that for more.  Yeah.  It’s just a little on the road that night-- that late I mean

51. I: Okay

52. C: Yeah

53. I: So your dad had to carry you?

54. C: Yeah

55. I: And how long did it take?

56. C: Maybe one hour.  One hour because he needed to run and walk to the um, to the hospital.  Yeah.  It’s really hard I know

57.  I: Yeah

58. C: Because my—my dad is really fat (laughs)

59. I: (laughs)

60. C: And he do not do any exercise normal time, I know it’s, it’s really hard for him

61. I: Yeah

62. C: And it’s, it was really late.  He can’t ask for any help because peoples already fall asleep

63. I: Ah, right

64. C: Yeah.

65. I: Okay, great, that’s quite a story

66. C: Is that finished?

67. I: Yeah, we’re finished.

68. C: Okay


Appendix C
Sue Past Tense Distribution by Morphology
Total: 110
Total Correct Use: 63                                                              Total Incorrect Use: 47
Overall Accuracy:  57%
Positive Irregular Verbs—Total 33
Accuracy:  55%
Correct Use—Total 18                                                                        Incorrect Use—Total 15
met (2X) (T10, T12)
felt (3X) (T12, T14, T16)
made (T12)
did (2X) (T12, T32)
had (T16)
said (3X) (T16, T42, T60)
told (3X) (T16, T18, T20)
gave (T26)
came (2X) (T56, T60)
Present Tense Used—Total 11
get (T2)
take (T20)
think (3X) (T24, T56, T56)
give (T26)
feel (T54)
say (T54)
make (T54)
come (2X) (T56, T60)
Incorrect Morphology—Total 2
gived (T26)
thinked (T56)
Self Correction—Total 2
give—gave (2X) (T36, T42)

Positive Regular Verbs—Total 33
Accuracy: 67%
Correct Use—Total 22                                                                        Incorrect Use—Total 11
encouraged (T12)
promised (2X) (T14, T14)
happened (T16)
treated (T16)
tried (4X) (T28, T30, T34, T50)
changed (T30)
controlled (T34)
persuaded (T35)
confused (T42)
graduated (T46)
decided (T50)
used (T52)
failed (T52)
called (2X) (T60, T60)
complained (2X) (T60, T60)
liked (T66)
Present Tense Used—Total 11
like (2X) (T12, T58)
want (4X) (T16, T26, T30, T42)
looks (T16)
start (2x) (T28, T28)
care (T46)
decide (T48)

Negative Verbs—Total 13
Accuracy:  15%
Correct Use—Total 2                                                              Incorrect Use—Total 11
didn’t go (T14)
didn’t realize (T16)
Present Tense Used With Don’t—Total 6
doesn’t allow (2X) (T4, T10)
don’t want (3X) (T24, T32, T58)
doesn’t care (T58)

Present Tense Used with Never—Total 2
never send (T56)
never call (T56)
Self Correction—Total 3
don’t care—didn’t care (T16)
doesn’t allow —didn’t allow (T22)
doesn’t—didn’t send (T58)

Positive Be Verbs—Total 24
Accuracy: 62%
Correct Use—Total 15                                                                        Incorrect Use—Total 9
was (12X) (T8, T10, T10, T10, T16, T16, T20, T22, T22, T28, T48, T62)
were (3X) (T12, T24, T56)
Present Tense Used—Total 8
I’m (4X) (T6, T10, T46, T46)
are (2X) ( T16, T20)
is (2X) (T16, T40)
Ellipted—Total 1
ellipted (T20)

Negative Be Verbs—Total 2
Accuracy: 50%
Correct Use—Total 1                                                                          Incorrect Use—Total 1
weren’t (T56)
are not (T20)

Negative Modal Verbs—Total 5
Accuracy: 100%
Correct Use—Total 5                                                              Incorrect Use—Total 0
couldn’t (5X) (T16, T20, T22, T22, T22)




Appendix D
Carol Past Tense Distribution by Morphology
Total: 87
Total Correct Use:  43                                                             Total Incorrect Use: 44
Overall Accuracy:  49%
Positive Irregular Verbs—Total 37
Accuracy: 54%
Correct Use—Total 20                                                                        Incorrect Use—Total 17
came (4X) (T4, T24, T24, T26)
got (4X)(T8, T18, T18, T26)
said (4X) (T16, T28, T28, T36)
heard (T24)
cried (2X) (T24, T26)
thought (2X) (T24, T32)
did (T26)
wrote (T28)
ate (T38)
Present Tense Used—Total 14
take (5X) (T20, T22, T24, T26, T34)
feel(s) (4X) (T26, T26, T30, T30)
hold (3X) (T26, T26, T26)      
eat (T38)
fall (T62)
Self-Correction—Total 2
tell-told (T16)
think-thought (T26)
Incorrect Morphology—Total 1
feeled (T30)

Positive Regular Verbs—Total 10
Accuracy:  70%
Correct Use—Total 7                                                  Incorrect Use—Total 3
happened (3X) (T4, T8, T32)
asked (2X) (T16, T20)
shocked (T26)
needed (T56)
Present Tense Used—Total 2
walk (T26)
stay (T40)
Self-Correction—Total 1
ask-asked (T30)

Negative Verbs  Total 1
Accuracy: 100%
Correct Use—Total 1                                                              Incorrect Use—Total 0
did not know (T4)


Positive Be Verbs—Total 28
Accuracy: 54%
Correct Use—Total 15                                                                        Incorrect Use—Total 13
was (14X) (T4, T4, T4, T4, T4, T6, T20, T22, T24, T24, T24, T26, T26, T26, T62)
were (T22)
is (13X) (T26, T26, T26, T44, T46, T48,T48,T50, T50, T56, T60, T62)

Negative Modal Verbs—Total 11
Accuracy: 0%
Correct Use—Total 0                                                              Incorrect Use—Total 11

can’t (11X) (T8, T8, T24, T24, T26, T26, T26, T38, T38, T38, T62)



Appedix E
Sue Past Tense Distribution by Inherent Lexical Aspects
Summary
Overall Total: 109
Total Correct Use: 64                                                          Total Incorrect Use: 45
Overall Accuracy: 59%

Overall Dynamic Verb (Achievements, Accomplishments, Activities) Total: 57
Total Correct Use: 38                                                          Total Incorrect Use: 19
Overall Dynamic Verb Accuracy: 67%

Stative Verb Total: 52
Correct Use—Total: 26                                                           Incorrect Use—Total: 26
Accuracy: 50%

Event Verbs (Achievements, Accomplishments) Total: 40
Correct Use—Total: 26                                                       Incorrect Use—Total: 14
Accuracy: 65%

Non-Event Verbs (Activities, States) Total: 69
Correct Use—Total: 38                                                       Incorrect Use—Total: 31
Accuracy: 55%

Tables
Achievements—Total: 23
Accuracy: 52%
Correct Use—Total: 12                                                       Incorrect Use—Total: 11
met (2X) (T10, T12)
gave up(T26)
gived up(T26)
persuaded (T35)
graduated (T46)
decided (T50)
called (2X) (T60, T60)
didn’t realize (T16)
promised (2X) (T14, T14)
get into University (T2)
give up this friend (T26)
make me disappointed (T54)
give—gave myself one last chance (2X) (T36, T42)
start (2x) (T28, T28)
decide (T48)
never send (T56)
never call (T56)
doesn’t—didn’t send (T58)

Accomplishments—Total 17
Accuracy: 82%
Correct Use—Total 14                                                        Incorrect Use—Total 3
failed (T52)
made mistakes (T12)
did something wrong (T12)
did a lot of things (T32)
said (3X) (T16, T42, T60)
told (3X) (T16, T18, T20)
changed (T30)
came (to Australia) (2X) (T56, T60)
happened (T16)
used one year (T56)
say (T54)
come (2X) (T56, T60)

Activities—17
Accuracy: 71%
Correct Use—Total: 12                                                       Incorrect Use—Total: 5
thinked (T56)
didn’t go to travel (T14)
encouraged (T12)
tried (4X) (T28, T30, T34, T50)
controlled (T34)              
confused (T42)
treated her as my best friend (T16)
complained (2X) (T60, T60)
take care of each other (T20)
think (3X) (T24, T56, T56)
ask-asked (T30)

States—Total 52
Accuracy: 50%
Correct Use—Total 26                                                        Incorrect Use—Total: 26
felt (3X) (T12, T14, T16)
had a good friend (T16)
liked (T66)                
was (12X) (T8, T10, T10, T10, T16, T16, T20, T22, T22, T28, T48, T62)
were (3X) (T12, T24, T56)
weren’t (T56)
couldn’t (5X) (T16, T20, T22, T22, T22)
feel (T54)
like (2X) (T12, T58)
want (4X) (T16, T26, T30, T42)
looks like a boy (T16)
care (T46)
doesn’t allow (2X) (T4, T10)
don’t want (3X) (T24, T32, T58)
doesn’t care (T58)
don’t care—didn’t care (T16)
doesn’t allow —didn’t allow (T22)
I’m (4X) (T6, T10, T46, T46)
are (2X) (T16, T20)
is (2X) (T16, T40)
are not (T20)

Not Analyzed:
Ellipted Verb (T20)



Appendix F
Carol Past Tense Distribution by Inherent Lexical Aspects
Summary
Overall Total: 87
Total Correct Use: 45                                                          Total Incorrect Use: 42
Overall Accuracy: 52%

Overall Dynamic Verb (Achievements, Accomplishments, Activities) Total: 40
Total Correct Use: 27                                                          Total Incorrect Use: 13
Overall Dynamic Verb Accuracy: 68%

Stative Verb Total: 47
Correct Use—Total: 18                                                       Incorrect Use—Total: 29
Accuracy: 38%

Event Verbs (Achievements, Accomplishments) Total: 28
Correct Use—Total: 22                                                       Incorrect Use—Total: 6
Accuracy: 79%

Non-Event Verbs (Activities, States) Total: 59
Correct Use—Total: 23                                                       Incorrect Use—Total: 36
Accuracy: 39%

Tables
Achievements—Total 2
Accuracy: 50%
Correct Use—Total: 1                                                         Incorrect Use—Total: 1
shocked (T26)
fall asleep (T62)


Accomplishments—Total: 26
Accuracy: 81%
Correct Use—Total: 21                                                       Incorrect Use—Total: 5
came (4X) (T4, T24, T24T26)
got (4X)(T8, T18, T18, T26)
said (4X) (T16, T28, T28, T36)
heard (T24)
did (T26)
wrote a letter (T28)
happened (3X) (T4, T8, T32)
asked (2X) (T16, T20)
saved (T26)
take off my trousers (T22)
take taxi home (T24)
take me to the hospital (T26)
tell-told (T16)
think-thought (T26)

Activities—Total: 12
Accuracy: 41%
Correct Use—Total: 5                                                         Incorrect Use—Total: 7
cried (2X) (T24, T26)
thought (2X) (T24, T32)
ate (T38)
take a sick leave (T34)
hold (3X) (T26, T26, T26)
eat (T38)
walk (T26)
stay (T40)

States—Total: 47
Accuracy: 38%
Correct Use—Total: 18                                                           Incorrect Use—Total: 29
feeled (T30)
needed (T56)
did not know (T4)
was (14X) (T4, T4, T4, T4, T4, T6, T20, T22, T24, T24, T24, T26, T26, T26, T62)
were (T22)
take it seriously (T20)
feel(s) (4X) (T26, T26, T30, T30)
is (13X) (T26, T26, T26, T44, T46, T48,T48,T50, T50, T56, T60, T62)
can’t (11X) (T8, T8, T24, T24, T26, T26, T26, T38, T38, T38, T62)




Appendix G
Rationale For Coding and List of Verbs Excluded from Analysis
            Because regular and irregular verbs in English both negate in the same way (using post module negation), it was thought that the verb type would make no difference in the tense of the negation.  Therefore no distinction was made between negative regular and negative irregular negative verbs for this analysis. 
            It was thought necessary to classify negative verbs in a separate table because negativity affects the verb inflection in English.  When the main verb is preceded by a negative auxiliary verb, the main verb reverts to the base form and it is the auxiliary that inflects to show tense change. 
An exception to this is when negativity is expressed by an adverb such as “never” which negates the verb phrase without affecting the morphology of the verb.  In this way a case could be made for classifying “never” verb phrases as positive verbs.  However Sue always uses “never” followed by the base form of the verb.  It is unclear whether this is a mistake in tense, or if her interlanguage representation of “never” is similar to that of a negative auxiliary verb.  In any case, the decision was made to count “never” verb phrases as a sub-category within negative verbs.
            Because this analysis focuses only on the past tense, any verbs that were not in the past tense and were not intended to express a past meaning were excluded from analysis.  Likewise any verbs that lacked temporal aspects (for example nonfinite verbs such as infinitives) were also excluded from analysis. 
            For the sake of simplicity, all conditionals were excluded from analysis, including past conditionals. 
            All reported speech was excluded analysis.  This includes indirect reported speech because the participants often treated indirect reported speech as direct reported speech.  The definition of reported speech was also expanded to include thoughts and feelings when it was felt participants were using sentence structures similar to reported speech.
            In cases of self correction were the verb is not the subject of the self correction, and the tense is not changed, the verb is only counted as once.  (Such as in Sue, T 12 “I really like it—like him” is only counted as one instance of “like”.)
Passive verbs were excluded from analysis of the morphological distribution because of the infrequency with which they occurred.  Only one occurrence in both transcripts combined (assuming sentences like “I was disappointed” and “I am shocked” were counted as examples of be-verbs plus adjectives and not passive verbs.)  Because their temporal inflection was expressed differently than active verbs, making them hard to compare, passive verbs were exclude from analysis in the first two tables, but included in the inherent lexical aspect distribution tables.
The modal verb should was excluded from analysis on the grounds that it had no past tense.  However the modal verb can/could was included because it could inflect to show past tense.  Because it is always used as an auxiliary verb (and therefore inflects tense even when in the negative) it was put in a separate category from the other verbs for the morphological distribution tables.
Verbs Excluded From Analysis for Sue
Present tense verbs used correctly
T10.  how do you say?
T16.  but it is very difficult to ah, describe
T16.  You can understand from the tape
T20.  You know
T22.  because it’s not normal in China
T30 how do you say
T34.  I mean, you can understand
T36.  It’s okay
T36.  gave myself last chance to ah, you know, tell him
T42.  You know, ah, be together or not together, just ah be natural. 
T46.  because you know
T48.  So ah, as you know I decide to study abroad
T56.  never, you know, MS me, something
T58.  But the truth is ah
T62.  I think the decision is right         
T62.  Otherwise we always—we’ll always, you know, blame with each other or complain with each other.
T62.  I’m single now
T64.  I’m single now
T66.  the memory sometimes still, you know, come rise
T68.  Can you—Can you imagine
T68.  It’s very difficult to forget him
T70.  that’s my, ah love story

Verbs of Unclear Morphology
T56.  never, you know, MS me, something

Infinitives
T4.  doesn’t allow us to have a relationship
T12.  I encouraged myself to be together with him
T14.  I promised him to go to travel with him
T14. then go to travel with
T16.  I want to be with you
T16.  but it is very difficult to ah, describe
T22.  didn’t allow me to be together
T26.  and want to be together with the guy
T28.  I tried everything to change
T28.  Start to wear make-up.
T28.  Start to learn dance
T30.  I want to, you know, um, how do you say, get him back
T32.  because I don’t want to be ashame of my life
T34.  My friends just persuaded me to give up
T36.  gave myself last chance to ah, you know, tell him--tell him about how much I love you
T36.  And ah, if you can, if you don’t want to be with me you just told me directly.
T42.  You know, ah, be together or not together, just ah be natural. 
T48.  it was not good to find—not, not easy to find a job
T48.  I decide to study abroad
T50.  I ah tried to persuade him to accept
T50.  I decided to go overseas
T52.  I used one year to ah, make him accept this
T58.  still don’t want let him go
T68.  It’s very difficult to forget him

Conditionals
T8.  if I fall in love with someone, then it will influence my study
T14.  If I let my parents know I go out with some guy, and then go to travel with him to some other city they will be afraid of me—worry about me. 
T32.  way just buy some gifts for him if I go to the city, and uh send a message to him and ah, if it become cold, or something like that
T34.  If he replied me the message I felt very happy
T34.  And if he didn’t I felt sad. 
T36.  And ah, if you can, if you don’t want to be with me you just told me directly.
T62.  Otherwise we always—we’ll always, you know, blame with each other or complain with each other.
T62.  And I will complain
T68.  Can you imagine you like someone for the whole 4 years?

Causative
T52.  I used one year to ah, make him accept this

Future Tense
T10.  and he won’t accept it

Should (and post modal verbs)
T14.  I felt I shouldn’t lie to my parents
T16.  I felt I really should be together with him
T56.  I should end, end, finish this relationship

Post Modal Verbs after could
T16.   he couldn’t afford this
T20.  I couldn’t accept this
T22.  I just, couldn’t understand
T22.  I couldn’t understand something
T22.  I couldn’t understand, because it’s not normal in China

Reported Speech
T16.  So I want to tell him I want to be with you
T16.  one day he, uh she, said, [whisper] she liked me [end whisper]. 
T18.  the girl just told me she loves me
T20.  GIRL told me she loves me
T36.  tell him--tell him about how much I love you
T42.  he said he can think about it
T60.  Complained such as why you don’t look for me, or something
T60.  And he said, if next time you calling me for complain something just don’t call me.
T62.  Why you leave me?  Why you go to Australia?  And I will complain why you don’t care about me, why you don’t just, ah, encourage me or support me

Past Participle
T44.  we been together.  Been together for around two years. 

Verbs Excluded from Analysis for Carol
Verbs Excluded from Analysis
Present tense verbs used correctly
T2.  I can start now
T4.  my memory story is about my father
T4.  it’s what happened
T8.  because um, I don’t know, ah one
T8.  I don’t know what’s that? 
T26.  I don’t know that’s really…uh….yeah
T26.  I don’t know how to describe
T26.  It’s like
T28.  people generally can’t, like, just take two marks, left right legs and think maybe my daughter is something happened
T32.  I still think about this
T32.  Is it [whisper] 5 minutes? [end whisper]
58. my dad is really fat
T60.  he do not do any exercise normal time
T66.  Is that finished?


Infinitives
T16.  my dad asked my mom to check on me
T20.  he asked my mom to check on me
T26.  I don’t know how to describe
T30.  ask me—asked my mother to check on me
T56.  he needed to run and walk to the um, to the hospital.

Conditionals
T36.  if I do not take hospital for one month maybe my life would be something dangerous

Past Progressives
T40.  my dad like always, (laughs) hm hm, checking on me

Post Modal Verbs
T8.  I can’t move
T8.  I can’t ah, take any step
T24.  my mom can’t hold me along
T24.  I already can’t move anymore
T26.  Because I can’t fall asleep
T26.  he can’t feel his daughter
T26.  he can’t drive
T38.  I-I can’t stay outside
T38.  I can’t eat meat
T38.  I can’t eat rice.
T62. He can’t ask for any help

Reported Speech
T16.  I said look my leg is really funny
T24.  I thought, oh hopefully my dad came back he can save me
T26.  he think—he thought he couldn’t get home
T28.  I said thank you, and ah, and ah, I know he was feels sorry
T28.  I said you don’t need to feel like that because ah, I know you are so carefully
T28.  think maybe my daughter is something happened
T32.  I thought that it’s
T32.  I feeled my dad really love me

Passive Verbs
T26.  I saved by my father

Grade and Professor's comments:
72 out of 100.0
Comments
A fairly interesting paper with a few trouble spots. The lit review is okay but could have been cited some more research about the acquisition of the past from a functional perspective. The early part about Riddle's work and the end talking about transfer don't seem very relevant to your study. The Methodology is clearly presented, but the Results (actually Results & Discussion) aren't very well presented: some of the tables should have made an appearance here rather than being banished to the Appendix. This section would also have benefitted from some sub-headings to break it up a bit. While I enjoyed reading your "Limitations" section, I would have liked to see less self-flagellation and more thought on why you responded like that—interactants accommodate, they don't recast, and it's extremely rare to actually hear a native speaker say "you had better". Looking at Appendix F, I was struck by Carol's issue with "take", which she seems to refuse to put into the past.

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